Are you a wool whacker? Or.. do you coddle your washed skeins, handling them gently as you hang them up to dry? Do you wash your skeins by hand to set them, or put them in the washing machine?
I've been giving these questions a bit of thought lately. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, is that article from Spin Off last year by Judith MacKenzie McCuin*, where she suggests using a toilet plunger while washing handspun yarn to set the twist. It had sounded rather harsh to me. But, that was before I met her and found her to be a very reasonable person. Keeping this in mind and still not sold on the plunger idea (mine is relegated to plumbing only), I've begun whacking my woolen yarn. After a not so gentle wash in scalding hot water with a bit of shampoo, I rinse, again in hot, hot water. Then, I toss it into the washer on the 'spin only' cycle. This saves hours and hours on the drying. Then comes the whacking, or the setting of the twist. My basement has a metal column, a lally column, in the middle of the room. If I remember correctly, it was once covered in some sort of red carpet, probably shag if it was the match for the rest of the house when it became mine. Twenty years ago, I striped it off (delivered it to the dump) and scraped the column, never getting around to painting or covering it. Today it is my whacking pole. Not only do I find that the yarn does seem to even out from the mistreatment, but I find it rather satisfying. Who'd 'a thought?
I'm not suggesting that this treatment should be used for everything.. it most certainly should not. These days, I'm collecting tools. This is a good one.
This brings the total number of skeins I've spun and whacked for the Rhinebeck Sweater to four, just over a pound and nearly 800 yards. It is heavy stuff. Spinning as I go has been fun and a treat for my hands. All the changes in hand motions have kept my wrist from getting too sore. Even the knitted pattern was easy to switch out. Rows 1&2, the k2, p2 rows, were knitted English. Rows 3&4 were stockinette, and knitted Continental.
Now, for the fun part. This is what I found in my button box. I love the larger buttons. They look blue with the sky reflecting in them this morning. Gorgeous day. They are a dark brown, nearly the color of the darkest brown in the yarn, with light brown dashes. They'd be a strong statement. The smaller pewter buttons mimic the stitch pattern and are sized well for the sweater. They are bright against the dark wool.
*Summer 2007 on wet finishing yarn